People have been playing video games for years but over the last few years, participation has skyrocketed. In 2015, there were an estimated 2 billion people who played video games. That number is expected to reach 3 billion by the year 2023. While those numbers are from people of all ages, 21% of total gamers are under the age of 18.
As a parent, there are many safety concerns that come with your child participating in online gaming. Will they be interacting and chatting with other kids? What can you do as a parent to make sure they stay safe?
Here are some ways to help keep your kids safe when playing video games online.
1. Make sure the game is age appropriate
Before your child plays an online game, check the reviews and ratings to see if it is age appropriate. Some games look suitable for children at first glance but upon further inspection can have inappropriate pieces for younger ages. Each game is rated similar to how we rate movies by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Rated E for everyone is the most suitable rating for kids for kids.
2. Talk to your child about chatting with strangers online
Many online video games have the option to communicate with other players. Talk to your child about chatting and talking with strangers online. Chat features can be text or voice based. Monitoring these and communicating best practices with your child can help stop problems before they arise.
3. Enable parental controls
On many games there are parental controls that can be set. These can range from restricting messaging options, blocking inappropriate content, and limiting time they can spend gaming.
4. Disable additional features that are not necessary
Some games require the use of video or webcams. Hackers have been known to use webcams as a way to hack into people’s personal life. Be sure to turn off webcams and video when your child is not playing the game. If it is not pertinent to the game, you might even turn off the webcam or video option all together.
5. Play the game with your child!
An easy way to see if a game is safe and appropriate for your child, is by playing the game with them. You will be able to see first hand what they have access to and who they are communicating with. You can also play the game before them to see what types of controls you want to set before letting them play independently. You never know, you might have just discovered a fun new activity you can do together!
Online gaming is going to continue to grow and become more popular with children of all ages. There are so many amazing benefits of playing video games so keeping your child safe when playing is essential. By simply being observant and keeping an eye on what your child is doing while online, you can ensure a safe and fun online experience for all!